Westside community leaders march in protest of a massive West Los Angeles development proposed for a site at Bundy Drive and Olympic Boulevard on Tuesday morning. Residents across Westside communities expressed their overwhelming opposition to the proposed ÒBundy VillageÓ project. (photo by Brandon Wise)

OLYMPIC BLVD — Centinela Avenue may be where Santa Monica ends, but local residents are afraid a massive development proposed for just beyond that boundary could come to mark the beginning of a new era of nightmarish traffic in the city brought on by over-development.

Called the Bundy Village Medical Park, the controversial project envisions 385 residential units and more than 500,000-square-feet of commercial space at the intersection of Bundy Drive and Olympic Boulevard that is estimated to create more than 20,000 new car trips per day.

The project’s developer calls the proposal “smart growth at its best” that will provide a live-work environment, needed medical services and neighborhood serving retail next to the future Expo light rail line.

The project has won support from the Los Angeles Planning Department and is scheduled to go before the city’s Planning Commission Thursday morning. With backing from Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes the project site, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the project appears headed for approval.

But opponents, including Santa Monica City Council members and groups like Santa Monica’s Friends of Sunset Park, are having none of it.

Residents opposed to the large-scale development gathered at Bundy and Olympic Tuesday morning during rush hour carrying signs bearing the slogans “Say No to Bundy Village,” and “Honk if You’re Tired of Traffic” in a last-ditch effort to drum up support for forcing the project to scale down.

Santa Monica’s planning director sent a letter to Los Angeles planners last year expressing concerns about impacts on Santa Monica streets, stating that 15 intersections in the city or bordering it would be significantly impacted by traffic because of the project.

But Michael Lombardi, the project developer, and Rosendahl both said while traffic on the Westside is an obvious concern, opposing the project is short sighted and in some cases selfish.

Many Westside jobs are located in Santa Monica, Rosendahl pointed out, boosting the city’s tax base while causing traffic in West L.A.

He said for Santa Monica to oppose a project in his district is “hypocrisy at its worst,” especially since the city is set to consider approving Bergamot Transit Village, a nearly 1-million-square-foot project in its city limits located nearby.

“We are frustrated with the gridlock, but does that mean we roll over and let Santa Monica continue to pave our way into paralysis?” Rosendahl said. “They’re the ones that have created the gridlock that we suffer through.”

Lombardi said the project’s traffic impacts that critics blast is misleading. With 385,000-square-feet of medical office space included in the design, he said the project will give people who would otherwise have to travel into Santa Monica or drive across town a more convenient place for doctor visits. In an area with an aging population and a shortage of medical resources he said the project will benefit the community.

Though a coalition of Westside neighborhood councils are opposed to the development because of traffic concerns, the demonstration on Tuesday was put together by Kilroy Realty Corp., which owns property next to the Bundy Village site and has hired a public relations company to coordinate opposition to the proposed development.

Peter Brown, a vice president with the PR firm MWW Group, said his client is concerned traffic caused by Bundy Village would adversely affect Kilroy tenants.

“In this case the community and businesses in the neighborhood are hand in hand,” he said.

Lombardi, though, said Kilroy’s motives are obviously highly questionable.

Finger pointing aside, many residents who live in the vicinity of the proposed development feel Bundy Village is a simple example of overreaching by a developer in an area were traffic already snarls.

“This project is going to be an aneurysm beyond belief,” said Marilyn Noyes, a West L.A. resident who showed up on Tuesday to protest.

Zina Josephs, president of the Friends of Sunset Park, said the sheer size of the development is certain to worsen the quality of life in her neighborhood.

“We can’t go east already from our neighborhood in the afternoons,” she said. “Add another 20,000 cars and how are we going to go east at all?”

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